Moderate alcohol drinking combined with regular exercise are good for one's health. That's the take home message from a study by Pedersen et al.,* published today in the European Heart Journal. The last 2 sentences from the paper:
But neither physical activity alone nor alcohol intake can completely reverse the increased risk associated with physical inactivity and alcohol abstention. Thus, both physical activity and alcohol intake are important to lower the risk of fatal IHD [ischaemic heart disease] and all-cause mortality.The favorable influence of moderate alcohol consumption on overall mortality clashes with the perception that ethanol is a carcinogen. If it is likely to cause cancer, how can it reduce overall mortality at the same time? Last fall, the World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research released an Expert Report Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity and the Prevention of Cancer: a Global Perspective. They were aware of the contradiction of their findings with those of numerous studies pointing out the cardiovascular benefits of moderate alcohol consumption. In the preface to the Expert Report, Michael Marmot wrote:
"WCRF also appreciated the parallels between dietary causes of cardiovascular disease and cancer. There is a great deal of concordance. In general, recommendations in this Report to prevent cancer will also be of great relevance to cardiovascular disease. The only significant contradiction is with alcohol. From the point of view of cancer prevention, the best level of alcohol consumption is zero. This is not the case for cardiovascular disease, where the evidence suggests that one to two drinks a day are protective. The Panel therefore framed its recommendation to take this into account."Their summary recommendation for alcoholic drinks was simple: Limit alcoholic drinks.
I walked an hour earlier today. Now I can enjoy a beer. Cheers!
*Jane Østergaard Pedersen, Berit Lilienthal Heitmann, Peter Schnohr, and Morten Grønbæk. The combined influence of leisure-time physical activity and weekly alcohol intake on fatal ischaemic heart disease and all-cause mortality. Published today in the European Heart Journal. (Full Text Free Access).